What would become of the world, if our current societal flaws, such as sexism, racism, and classism were ingrained and executed at a systematic level? This is exactly what The Handmaid’s Tale set out to explore. The novel, which claims to be speculative fiction, is set in the theocratic Republic of Gilead (formerly the USA), where birth rates are rapidly declining and women have been marginalized by the patriarchal regime, forbidden to read, write or love and valued only if they are able to procreate. They are separated into classes, including Wives, Marthas, Aunts, Unwomen, and Handmaids, distinguishable only by the color of their clothing. The Handmaids are renamed by combining ‘of’ and the name of the Commander that they have been assigned to, stripping them of any individuality. The protagonist of The Handmaid’s Tale is referred to as Offred (of Fred). Through the manipulation of literary devices such as juxtaposition, allusion, and descriptive diction, Margaret Atwood voices her concerns about our future, and reveals just how quickly and completely our present could transform.
Rebellion; the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention. The Handmaid’s Tale written by Margaret Atwood is a novel. The novel takes place in Gilead a dystopian society. Everyone in Gilead has an important role to play within the society, however, it seems as if none of the characters seem content with their role, due to the restrictions they face. In the novel, the lack of freedom leads to rebellion as shown by the characterization, interior dialogue, flashbacks, and foreshadowing.
In the Handmaid 's Tale power is used to control the women and sort them into certain gender roles. Each women in the society of Gilead is assigned a certain job that is stereotypical of a woman 's job such as cooking, sex, and reproduction. These women are the lowest class in Gilead and have no control. The men have superior power of the women but the women such as Ofgeln and Offred gain control in power in their lives.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, the novel critiques gender inequality and autocratic authority. The hierarchical class of men consists of Commanders, Angels, and Guardians. In particular, the Commanders are the highest-ranking social group in Gileadean society. The Commanders are represented as powerful men. They have leadership roles, autocratic governance, and are oppressors controlling the Gilead regime.
The Commander and the Aunts claim that women are better protected in Gilead, where they are treated with respect and kept safe from violence. However, while Gilead claims to suppress sexual violence, it actually institutionalizes it. An example is Jezebel’s, the club that provides the Commanders with prostitutes to service the male elite. Another example is the Ceremony that compels Handmaids to have sex with their Commanders. Foster suggests, “...sex can be pleasure, sacrifice, submission, rebellion, resignation, supplication, domination, enlightenment, the whole works” (158).
Some of these methods include destroying identity through classification, objectification, and indoctrination. Most women of Gilead are sufficiently repressed that they seem to accept their assigned roles, at least outwardly resigned to their fate. Atwood uses gender roles in The Handmaid’s Tale to show the lengths to which misogynistic totalitarian governments will go, to protect their dictatorships. The Republic of Gilead is a hierarchical society which requires complete submission of women to men. By taking away women’s paid jobs, confiscating their property, draining their bank accounts, and giving them no recourse, the male leadership leaves women in a fully dependent and subservient position.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood demonstrates a quizzical protagonist, Offred, in a dystopian, totalitarian society where fertile women are only a mere vessel for child birth. Every month during Offred’s menstrual cycle her Commander, Fred, and his wife Serena Joy perform detached intercourse while Serena holds Offred’s hands. The handmaids of the Republic of Gilead are not allowed to use their mind for knowledge nor take part in formal society. They are but the vacuous-minded property to their Commanders and their infertile wives. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred discloses the day to day moments and her commicalOffred had once lived in a world where she was her own person with a job and a home with a family of her own but now she lives under unfortunate circumstances that disable her from being a true, soulful human. Through the use of biblical allusions and specific word
Thus, by the regime removing their means of suicide, the Handmaids are imprisoned in lives to them no longer worth living, an extraordinarily disadvantageous consequence. A second non-lethal form of rebellion for Handmaids is to become Jezebels, or prostitutes. Since prostitution is legally sanctioned by the regime, it gives women unwilling to be Handmaids, a lawful form of rebellion. However, again the consequences of rebellion are severe as a Jezebel not only faces the horrific circumstances of a whore’s life, a Jezebel is also required to be sterilized thereby removing any hope she might want to retain, of a future as a mother. The dehumanization of the Jezebel is even more detrimental to the woman than the dehumanization of the Handmaid, therefore serving as a deterrent against rebellion.
Atwood connects the political events to show how Gilead gained control and keeps their control by establishing fear into the women. Gilead stays in control by limiting speech to religious references, keeping the women from talking about the oppression they are suffering. Additionally, women are blamed for the social issues that were present in a pre-Gilead society such as rape, abortion and adultery. Women get the blame for the issues and men do not suffer consequences since it is in their nature to cheat. Atwood uses allusions to the Old Testament and historical events to satirize the oppression of women in political, religious and social
Albert Camus once said, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” In this quotation, Camus brings about an important interpretation of how the way of surviving in a world without freedom is to rebel. Once you are completely free your existence is considered an act of rebellion. In Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, freedom is taken away from both men and women but mostly women. The novel reveals that lack of freedom leads to rebellion and breaking rules as shown through the symbol of the match, the use of flashbacks, and the characterization of men.
Thirdly, the classification of women into different classes prevents them from identifying their upmost enemy: masculine power. The relationship between the different groups of women creates a powerful atmosphere of suppression. In fact, Gilead promotes the act of woman against woman. Wives and Aunts controls and enforces the disciplines of the patriarchal society to other women, so one can clearly see that even women takes advantage of power. For example, Serena Joy, the Commander’s Wife who lives in vain hope for traditional womanhood, is the true traitor against women.
How would you feel if you were controlled by a society? In the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, Gilead is a dystopian society where people are told what to do and what not to do. Margaret Atwood demonstrates that restricted expression leads to rebellious actions by showing the rules being broken by the Commanders and Offred’s relationship as it’s developing. Although, society tells them they are restricted to certain actions, they disregard these rules and do what they desire.
The Handmaid 's Tale is one of Margaret Atwood most famous novels written during the spring of 1984, when the Berlin wall was still standing. Atwood creates a dystopia, which mostly consists of gender gap and oppression. The Handmaid 's Tale effectively portrays the United States as the modern-day totalitarian society of Gilead, which was illustrated as perfect by using the book of Genesis. Although the authors ideas are inherently and completely fictional, several concepts throughout his book have common links to the past and present society which the author herself calls a speculative fiction. The author uses a totalitarian system which includes aspects of Soviet system, to describe, deprivation, repression and terror with the use of
Regina Carla L. Silva 2015-01293 The Handmaid’s Tale The novel is set in the Republic of Gilead which is formerly the United States of America. The name comes from a place from the Bible. It is a totalitarian, theocratic government.
There are two ways people will react to when their freedom is taken away. They will either accept it or rebel against it, which is what a lot of the female characters in Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale accomplished. Shown through Offred’s repetition of certain events, Moira’s tone of being a fighter, and Serena Joy’s desperation, the reader can see that lack of freedom leads to rebellion.